“[Our country has] a golden past that is dedicated to rice security. We were one of the first importers in Asia…..[Now, there are challenges including youth engagement in agriculture]. The youth wants to be at everything except in agriculture,” the governor, now on her second term, said.
The Rice Science Museum aims to reach out to students through displays of artifacts that show the confluence of Cordilleran and Ilukano farmers. Museum features galleries about the Cordillera and Ilocos farming culture, modern farming, traditional and modern seeds, landscapes, and farm implements such as hukikud (dibbles), ganulang (for harvesting), and luhung and lalu (mortar and pestle).
“This second museum dedicated for Philippine rice following the re-launching of Rice Science Museum in Science City of Muñoz, Nueva Ecija, aims to feature not only the rice farming culture of the Ilocos but also of other regions covered by PhilRice Batac. PhilRice Batac serves the Northwestern Luzon area including Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Abra, and Apayao. Aside from the students, we are also reaching out to farmers to check on the modern technologies,” Maribel Alupay, museum curator said.
In her message during the recent launch, Marcos said the average age of Ilukano farmers is 58. Despite challenges of ageing farmers and typhoons in 2014, Ilocos Norte had contributed to the 15,000 metric tons (MT) increase in rice production, making Region 1 among the top four rice producing regions in the country. Ilocos Region has contributed at least 10 percent to the 18.44 million MT national output in 2014.
“Para makatayo tayo sa sariling pagkain, we must increase productivity, production, value of rice; and conduct more studies resulting in simple and barangay-based solutions for water scarcity,” the executive who served three terms as Representative of the 2nd District of Ilocos Norte, said.
She encouraged farmers to try hybrid rice and diversify their crops by planting high-value crops such as mushroom and garlic.
Last year, the Ilocos Norte was one of the country’s 12 Agri-Pinoy Rice Achievers for attaining high rice self-sufficiency at 286 percent and surpassing the province’s target production by 183 percent.